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India faces flak over ‘joke’ COVID-19 compensation scheme

Probe into Philippines’ deadly drug war could be Duterte political move: Experts MANILA: Experts on Tuesday questioned the Philippines government’s decision to probe the role of 154 police officers in President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs after an initial review suggested they could be criminally liable over their conduct in 52 deadly crackdowns. The move…

India faces flak over ‘joke’ COVID-19 compensation scheme

Probe into Philippines’ deadly drug war could be Duterte political move: Experts

MANILA: Experts on Tuesday questioned the Philippines government’s decision to probe the role of 154 police officers in President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs after an initial review suggested they could be criminally liable over their conduct in 52 deadly crackdowns.

The move is seen as a rare admission by the state of abuse that took place under Duterte’s watch. He said on Monday that he would “prepare his defense” for the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the drug war when he returns to Davao City at the end of his six-year term.

But experts such as Rikard Jalkebro, associate professor at the Emirate Diplomatic Academy, said while the justice department’s move appears to send a message to the international community, especially the ICC, it could also be part of Duterte’s political campaign for the coming 2022 elections.

“It sends a message to the international community and the ICC as well that the Philippines is now taking it seriously,” Jalkebro, who is also an expert on the Philippines, told Arab News.

The 76-year-old president has faced intense criticism from the international community over his drug war. According to official figures, more than 6,000 people have been killed during “legitimate drug operations” since Duterte took office in 2016.

However, 2020 figures from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights indicate at least 8,663 people were killed under the Duterte administration’s war on drugs while human rights groups say the figure is three times higher.

“By backing the internal investigations within the Philippine National Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency, they are conducting a review and trying to figure out where things went wrong and if they have gone wrong,” Jalkebro said.

He explained that if the internal reviews and reports reveal that nothing out of the ordinary has happened and it was a case of rogue officers taking the law into their own hands, “Then they can at least say: ‘OK, we did a review, and we did not find any ground for these statements.’”

“At the same time, they can deny any claims made by the ICC,” Jalkebro said, adding that it could also be Duterte’s move to “preempt something but also just to make sure, seeing that he will not have immunity (after his term).”

On Saturday, Duterte said he would no longer run for vice president in next year’s national elections and would retire from politics at the end of his term, saying his decision was based on the public’s wishes.

“As he has now officially pulled out of the election, he could again broaden his support among the people, and perhaps they can sway the opinion polls … because he is still the president and will take everything on as his responsibility. So that could also be a political play in that sense,” Jalkebro said.

“Then it would be a very good point to (for them to say) he is back by popular demand; he can not retire because he needs to do this for the Filipino people.”

On Monday, the Philippines’ Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters that the investigation into the drug war would not end with the 154 policemen seen to be liable for the death of 52 drug suspects.

“Quite a significant move by the DoJ, considering the government has not acknowledged anything,” Jalkebro said.

“They are obviously aware that the police have not acted on their own and they have been ordered to do so. I think it is to shake up the higher-ranking people involved — the police chiefs and the Duterte administration in general. Because in one way or another, everyone in the administration has blood on their hands. It is not just Duterte.”

Dindo Manhit, from the Stratbase ADR Institute for Strategic and International Studies, agrees.

“This investigation against the 154 policemen is good,” he said. “Though the question is why now? Is it a sign that the DOJ leadership would like to project a more independent position and preempt the ICC move?”

Duterte, in a recorded message that aired Monday night, said he would return to Davao when his term ends to prepare for the ICC probe.

“They want me to go home to Davao. I will wait for those who keep talking about the case. I will prepare for my defense in the ICC,” Duterte said, as he reiterated that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the Philippines.

He also repeated his commitment to back up the policemen who will be facing charges in court “for doing their job and implementing the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.”

“There are many policemen our there and even officials, who are scared about what will happen to me. I told them, ‘You are all hard-headed. Did I not tell you anything that you did in the prosecution of the drug war? For as long as you obey the law, I will protect you. It will be on me. I will answer for it.’” Duterte said.

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In Islamabad, a cafe serves up qahwah, the ‘language of love’ for Arabs

As the UN turns 76, students draw inspiration from its Sustainable Development Goals NEW YORK CITY: When the Bobcat Fire, one of the largest outbreaks in Los Angeles county’s history, erupted in September 2020, scorching hundreds of thousands of acres, 12-year-old Audrey Ma was within 500 feet of the area where a mandatory evacuation order…

In Islamabad, a cafe serves up qahwah, the ‘language of love’ for Arabs

As the UN turns 76, students draw inspiration from its Sustainable Development Goals

NEW YORK CITY: When the Bobcat Fire, one of the largest outbreaks in Los Angeles county’s history, erupted in September 2020, scorching hundreds of thousands of acres, 12-year-old Audrey Ma was within 500 feet of the area where a mandatory evacuation order was issued.

Ma’s parents asked her to pack her belongings as flames approached the neighborhood, and for a moment the child contemplated the possibility of losing everything she had and abandoning the only life she had known so far.

The Bobcat, one of about 30 major wildfires burning in the US state of California, led to the deaths of 26 people and the destruction of an untold number of properties.

Although her house was spared from the flames, Ma’s fear of the infernal images of forests and structures burning to the ground prompted her to look into the causes of the California fires.

How do they start? How do they spread? Why are there so many fires in Southern California?

FASTFACT

United Nations Day is an annual commemorative day, reflecting the official creation of the United Nations on Oct. 24, 1945

“I learned that, although climate change is not the (direct) cause of the fires, (drier climates due to rising temperatures) make fires easier to start and spread. So, I started to learn about sustainability,” Ma told Arab News.

A UN scientific study this year has shown that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes irreversible ways.

The report warned of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade. Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, called it “a red code for humanity.”

But the world continues to fall short of its promises to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, transition into clean energy and rebuild sustainably.

However, the new generation, like Ma, is directly feeling the urgency and realizing the direct impact climate change is having on their daily lives.

Thousands of people from around the globe have shared their vision for #TheWorldWeWant in a single photo.Ahead of Sunday’s #UNDay, get inspired with this visual manifesto & join the global pledge for a better future: https://t.co/gLktRmARhM pic.twitter.com/aSYk2amhUk
— United Nations (@UN) October 22, 2021

Renee Larios is the student community engagement coordinator at Pasadena’s private Polytechnic School where Ma is a student. Larios works with students to “help them navigate the things they want to do in the world to make the world better.”

Larios happened upon the UN Sustainable Development Goals four years ago. Her mind was blown, she told Arab News.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly set forth the SDGs — 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” The SDGs are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

“We decided to bring the SDGs back to our school to create a framework for our community engagement programs, to help students see the drops in the bucket that their volunteering does to further the 17 goals,” Larios said. “We’re also trying to get teachers to connect their curriculum, when possible, to one or more of the goals.”

“The students must, for every community engagement or service work that they do, explain what the relationship is between what they did and how that furthers the intention of one of the SDGs.”

After learning how food thrown into landfills rots and creates methane gas responsible for trapping the heat in our planet and making it warmer, Ma began implementing a sorting program at her school to separate the food waste from the trash, and then composting the waste in bins around the school.

“Now our sorting program can absorb 25 percent of our food waste,” Ma said. “However, the other 75 percent goes to an off-site composter, and we’re still burning fossil fuel by transporting it from place to place, which is not sustainable.

“So, our short-term goal is to be able to compost 100 percent of our food waste on-site at Poly (Polytechnic School), which leads to our long-term goal, which is (to) take this program and make it a science and then export it to other schools and use it as a blueprint for other schools to do the same thing, so we can reach meaningful reduction of greenhouse gas.”

“A Blueprint for a Better Future” is the theme established by the United Nations Association to celebrate UN Day on Oct. 24, marking the 76th anniversary of the foundational UN Charter.

The values that have powered the charter — peace, development, human rights and opportunity for all — “have no expiry date,” in the words of Guterres.

“Seventy-six years ago, the United Nations was created as a vehicle of hope for a world emerging from the shadow of catastrophic conflict,” he added in his message marking UN Day.

“COVID-19, conflicts, hunger, poverty and the climate emergency remind us that our world is far from perfect, but they also make clear that solidarity is the only way forward.

“We need to come together to tackle great challenges and advance the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“Today, the women and men of the UN carry this hope forward around the globe.”

As the head of global Initiatives Program at the Polytechnic School, Ann Diederich mentors the leaders of the UNA-Polytechnic School Chapter, where a rich programming is in place geared toward creating youth leadership.

“Our theme is ‘Empathy into Action,’” Diederich said. “How do we get our kids to come up with solutions to really complex global challenges, look at the SGDs and come up with concrete action steps to design change?

“The SDGs are very helpful for giving kids a framework and a blueprint, so they can do it and do it in a healthy way.”

Diederich, who has been teaching for 25 years, said she is concerned about this generation, commonly known as Gen Z.

“They seem to be on edge, overloaded with all the issues that they’re confronted with,” she said. “They really want to do something. They really care about each other. They have been isolated throughout the pandemic, and (now) they are very eager to work for change.

“I have never seen a generation like this. They’re quick, they do not waste time, they see that change needs to be made fast, and they don’t really trust the older generation, the millennials, to do that. They also sometimes outdo themselves.”

Ma quotes British explorer Robert Swan Obe, the first man to walk to both the North and South Poles: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

Ma said: “I know at the end of the day, everything that we do is a choice. And sometimes I am worried that people are making the easy choice.

“I know that we’re able to either choose to battle climate change or to do everything the way we always did and someone is gonna come along and figure out a way to save us.

“I chose to fight for my future and climate change and I hope that one day everybody will make that decision as well.”

Since its inception, the UN’s overarching aim was simple: Children should have a better and happier life than their parents.

The UN has spent more than seven decades attempting to save and improve lives, lives that today continue to hang in the balance as wars erupt in different parts of the world, driving millions into displacement, poverty and extreme food insecurity.

The pandemic has also widened the gap between rich and poor. The world’s inequalities have never been so clearly displayed for everyone to see, from vaccine inequality to the discrepancy in quality education.

SDG 4 is about quality education for all.

Ma said: “I know I myself am very privileged to be able to have this education but there is a lot of people out there who are not able to.

“I look up to people like Malala Yousafzai, who is fighting for quality education, especially for girls in Pakistan.

“I’ve watched a doc about her. I read her book. And I also listened to her UN speech. I am really inspired by her movement for gender equality and education for girls in Pakistan. I think that’s really important.”

Ma has a message for girls in Syria, Yemen and all the war-ravaged countries where people like her merely survive:

“My message to girls around the world: We all have different strengths and backgrounds and diverse stories. Even if you can’t get access to education, you can try to learn as much as you can, educate yourself about the world around you and if you can, maybe with your friends, your family. Fight for what you think is right in the world.”

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Swedish teen rapper killed in Stockholm shooting

STOCKHOLM: Award-winning Swedish rapper Einar, who has topped the country’s charts, was shot and killed in Stockholm, police and media said Friday as police hunted for suspects. The 19-year-old Einar, who raps in Swedish, was the most streamed artist on Spotify in Sweden in 2019. He was shot several times outside an apartment building shortly before…

Swedish teen rapper killed in Stockholm shooting

STOCKHOLM: Award-winning Swedish rapper Einar, who has topped the country’s charts, was shot and killed in Stockholm, police and media said Friday as police hunted for suspects.

The 19-year-old Einar, who raps in Swedish, was the most streamed artist on Spotify in Sweden in 2019.

He was shot several times outside an apartment building shortly before 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Thursday.

Ambulance personnel administered first aid but he died at the scene, Stockholm police spokeswoman Towe Hagg told AFP.

Police have opened a murder investigation.

“We are actively working to figure out why it happened and who can be behind it,” Hagg said.

In line with usual practice, the police have not yet confirmed the identity of the victim. But Sweden’s mainstream media identified him as Einar, whose full name is Nils Kurt Erik Einar Gronberg.

Many of Einar’s songs reference a life of crime, including drugs and weapons. He had public feuds with rival artist Yasin, who in July was jailed for 10 months for his role in a planned kidnapping of Einar in 2020.

The plan was ultimately aborted, but Einar was abducted several weeks later without Yasin’s involvement.

Einar was beaten, robbed, photographed in humiliating conditions and blackmailed, according to prosecutors.

The kidnapping was part of a broader case involving 30 suspects in a criminal network accused of a variety of crimes.

Among the suspects was another rapper, Haval Khalil, who was sentenced in July to two-and-a-half years in prison for complicity in the kidnapping and who has also had public spats with Einar.

The verdict was appealed and the case is currently being heard by the Svea Court of Appeal, which is expected to go on until December.

Einar had been called to attend the trial as a plaintiff, but was not planning to do so, his lawyer Rodney Humphreys told AFP.

“The same way he didn’t attend the trial in the district court,” Humphreys said.

The Aftonbladet newspaper reported Friday that Einar was living with a “price on his head” after a series of threats against him which had escalated recently.

Einar himself was one of several suspects arrested for a stabbing at a restaurant in central Stockholm earlier this month.

The son of Swedish actress Lena Nilsson, Einar grew up in southern Stockholm and often referred to the criminal scene in the area in his work.

He started his career posting songs to social media, and broke through in 2019 releasing “Katten i trakten” (The cat in the area), which hit No. 1 on Sweden’s singles chart.

He won several music awards, including Swedish Grammis.

Fans and friends expressed their grief on Einar’s social media.

“Einar was a real brother to me and I will miss him so much. We just released our first record last week and it feels so strange since I spoke to him just a day ago,” producer Trobi wrote on Instagram.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that “it is a young life that has been lost, and I understand that he meant a lot to many young people”.

“It’s tragic that another life has been lost,” he told news agency TT.

Another lesser-known Swedish rapper, 23-year-old Rozh Shamal, was also killed in a 2019 gangland shooting.

Sweden has in recent years struggled to rein in rising shootings and bombings — usually settlings of scores by gangs and organised crime involved in drug trafficking.

As of October 15, 273 shootings had been recorded with 40 people dead so far in 2021, according to police statistics.

During 2020, 47 people were killed in 366 shootings in the country of 10.3 million people.

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Red Cross warns aid groups not enough to stave off Afghan humanitarian crisis

STOCKHOLM: Award-winning Swedish rapper Einar, who has topped the country’s charts, was shot and killed in Stockholm, police and media said Friday as police hunted for suspects. The 19-year-old Einar, who raps in Swedish, was the most streamed artist on Spotify in Sweden in 2019. He was shot several times outside an apartment building shortly before…

Red Cross warns aid groups not enough to stave off Afghan humanitarian crisis

STOCKHOLM: Award-winning Swedish rapper Einar, who has topped the country’s charts, was shot and killed in Stockholm, police and media said Friday as police hunted for suspects.

The 19-year-old Einar, who raps in Swedish, was the most streamed artist on Spotify in Sweden in 2019.

He was shot several times outside an apartment building shortly before 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Thursday.

Ambulance personnel administered first aid but he died at the scene, Stockholm police spokeswoman Towe Hagg told AFP.

Police have opened a murder investigation.

“We are actively working to figure out why it happened and who can be behind it,” Hagg said.

In line with usual practice, the police have not yet confirmed the identity of the victim. But Sweden’s mainstream media identified him as Einar, whose full name is Nils Kurt Erik Einar Gronberg.

Many of Einar’s songs reference a life of crime, including drugs and weapons. He had public feuds with rival artist Yasin, who in July was jailed for 10 months for his role in a planned kidnapping of Einar in 2020.

The plan was ultimately aborted, but Einar was abducted several weeks later without Yasin’s involvement.

Einar was beaten, robbed, photographed in humiliating conditions and blackmailed, according to prosecutors.

The kidnapping was part of a broader case involving 30 suspects in a criminal network accused of a variety of crimes.

Among the suspects was another rapper, Haval Khalil, who was sentenced in July to two-and-a-half years in prison for complicity in the kidnapping and who has also had public spats with Einar.

The verdict was appealed and the case is currently being heard by the Svea Court of Appeal, which is expected to go on until December.

Einar had been called to attend the trial as a plaintiff, but was not planning to do so, his lawyer Rodney Humphreys told AFP.

“The same way he didn’t attend the trial in the district court,” Humphreys said.

The Aftonbladet newspaper reported Friday that Einar was living with a “price on his head” after a series of threats against him which had escalated recently.

Einar himself was one of several suspects arrested for a stabbing at a restaurant in central Stockholm earlier this month.

The son of Swedish actress Lena Nilsson, Einar grew up in southern Stockholm and often referred to the criminal scene in the area in his work.

He started his career posting songs to social media, and broke through in 2019 releasing “Katten i trakten” (The cat in the area), which hit No. 1 on Sweden’s singles chart.

He won several music awards, including Swedish Grammis.

Fans and friends expressed their grief on Einar’s social media.

“Einar was a real brother to me and I will miss him so much. We just released our first record last week and it feels so strange since I spoke to him just a day ago,” producer Trobi wrote on Instagram.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that “it is a young life that has been lost, and I understand that he meant a lot to many young people”.

“It’s tragic that another life has been lost,” he told news agency TT.

Another lesser-known Swedish rapper, 23-year-old Rozh Shamal, was also killed in a 2019 gangland shooting.

Sweden has in recent years struggled to rein in rising shootings and bombings — usually settlings of scores by gangs and organised crime involved in drug trafficking.

As of October 15, 273 shootings had been recorded with 40 people dead so far in 2021, according to police statistics.

During 2020, 47 people were killed in 366 shootings in the country of 10.3 million people.

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